From September 16-October 21, Dr. Hal Taussig returns for his twelfth Theologian-in-Residence at First Church Boulder. Although most of Hal’s previous series have focused on cutting-edge studies of the New Testament and recently discovered early Christ literature in the first 200 years, this fall’s sessions will have a different New Testament focus.
This year’s series focuses on Race, Ethnicity, and the Bible. This program is meant to connect Bible study and the last 370 years of African American biblical scholarship.
We’ll meet from 7:00-8:15 pm MDT on 6 consecutive Wednesday evenings, September 16 through October 21; we’ll meet on Zoom, an online meeting platform. The sessions are based on the important biblical studies of Dr. Vincent Wimbush over the past 25 years, focusing on Wimbush’s major book, African Americans and the Bible: Sacred Texts and Social Textures. Professor Wimbush, probably the country’s leading African American Professor of Biblical Studies, will not be participating directly. For 8 of the 17 years that Hal Taussig taught as Professor of New Testament Studies at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, Professor Wimbush was his colleague on Union’s faculty.
CLICK HERE to join the Zoom Meeting (the link will be the same each week).
Meeting ID: 854 6837 9579
CLICK HERE to view/download “Taussig Handouts,” the packet of readings and other materials that Dr. Taussig has compiled for his series.
For the October 14 Session
This week’s program will focus on two different kinds of historical African American study of the Bible. First, we will spend close to half of our time continuing our study of August Wilson’s play, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone. In preparation for this, please read Sandra Richards’ article, “Dry Bones: Spiritual Apprehension in August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone,” found in our packet of readings for this study (see link above). Please also read the portion in our readings from Leslie King Hammond’s “The Bible and the Aesthetics of Sacred Space in Twentieth Century African American Experience.” Looking forward to it!
Background on the Series as a Whole
Depending on the breakthrough studies of Professor Wimbush, this Bible study series assumes and promotes the wisdom of African American study of the Bible from 1650 to 2020. As such, it is a deep departure from European and North American white biblical scholarship. Built upon Wimbush’s scholarship, this Bible study series explores the ways that African Americans have, for over three hundred years, studied and embodied the power, meanings, social innovation, personal integrity, and cultural aliveness of the Bible. By and large, this approach to Bible study depends on African American communities and cultures, and the way they drew from the intersection of biblical stories, songs, resistance, praise, ecstasy, and poetry with experiences of inventiveness, slavery, family, work, trauma, and leadership. It understands African American study of the Bible over the past 300+ years as one of the key resources for all humans understanding the Bible.
Each session of this series will study a particular scripture passage through the lenses of specific historical practices of African American practitioners of the Bible. Although this initial series cannot address all 851 pages and 63 chapters of African Americans and the Bible, the sessions address three main sections of the book:
• Establishing identity in the constructed “new world” as African Americans have understood it biblically.
• The Bible as dynamic deformation, formation, reformation, and again deformation. The sessions will look carefully at the many important ways African Americans lived with the Bible over the past 300+ years spiritually, theologically, and socio-politically. It will follow Professor Wimbush’s analysis of how the Bible played key roles to effect and imbibe deformation, formation, reformation, and a second level of deformation.
• The Bible as script/manifesto that defines and embraces darkness. With Wimbush’s ironic, creative, and humorous reading of how African Americans have signified scripture today and in the previous 300+ years, the series will explore meanings of darkness, trauma, loss, and recovery.
As is usually the practice with Hal Taussig’s teaching, this series is not primarily lectures, but instead, open dialogue about what Bible study can do for all of us when approached through African American Bible study, which has been by and large ignored by mainstream European and White American study. Attendees are encouraged to read material from African Americans and the Bible, but this is not required to participate. Although the book is available for purchase online or through your local bookseller, a PDF file of excerpts will be made available to attendees at the Wednesday evening study sessions via the church’s website. CLICK HERE to view/download the packet.
Dr. Vincent Wimbush is currently Director of The Institute for Signifying Scripture: Excavating Discourse and Power. He has also served as Professor of New Testament for over ten years at both Union Theological Seminary in New York, and the Claremont Graduate University. He has served as the International and National President of the Society of Biblical Literature, the world’s premiere organization for biblical studies. He is the author of twelve books (including African Americans and the Bible; White Men’s Magic: Scripturalization as Slavery; Misreading America: Scriptures and Difference; Theorizing Scripture: New Critical Orientations to a New Cultural Phenomenon;) and has been awarded numerous major prizes, including from The Ford Foundation, The Lilly Foundation, and The Henry W. Luce Foundation.
Other major contributors to African Americans and the Bible are professors Velma Love, James Shopshire, Jacob Olumpona, Carla Peterson, Barbara Diane, Vincent Harding, Cheryle Sanders, Randall Bailey, Cheryl Kirk-Duggan, and Elizabeth Castelli.
Dr. Hal Taussig is a retired professor and United Methodist pastor. The most recent of his 14 published books is Re-Reading the Gospel of Mark Amidst Loss and Trauma. He is co-editor of the forthcoming HarperOne 2021 volume After Jesus Before Christianity: The First Two Hundred Years. His mediography includes The New York Times, Time Magazine, The Daily Show, People Magazine, Newsweek Magazine, National Public Radio, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC, the Bob Edwards Show on Sirius Radio, The History Channel, and The Washington Post.
Questions? Email the church office.